After declaring earlier in the week that he couldn’t get a better debut than against the reigning premiers, 18-year-old Sione Mata’utia was on top of the world after the Newcastle Knights' defeated the Sydney Roosters on Friday night.
Despite the daunting task of facing the sizable Roosters, Sione drew comfort from having NYC teammate Jake Mamo at the back with him.
“It’s awesome just having Jake there on the kick returns, it made me feel comfortable,” Sione explained.
“I’ve played with Jake more than once so that made me feel a bit comfortable at the back and that made my job a bit easier."
Sione credited his teammates' support after a defensive slip-up in the opening minutes of the game.
“It obviously wasn’t the start I really wanted but, it was good the boys got into me and got behind me to back myself," Sione said.
“It’s on the back of them how I performed, so it’s a credit to them too, they had a lot to do with my performance."
Mamo celebrated his first win in the NRL after being a late inclusion to replace injured winger James McManus.
“It’s a great feeling and it has probably been a bit of a long time coming,” Mamo said.
“It’s taken me six games, but it’s great to get it when Chanel and Sione are on debut, it’s a great feeling.”
The young winger held his own against a large Roosters pack, but admitted he came out of the game a bit sore.
"I’m sure Sione probably topped the run list, but it’s alright, I’ll try and get up there,” Mamo added.
Sione’s older brother Chanel was grateful for his chance to debut, which was made extra special given it was the first time in 72 years that two brothers have debuted together.
“First of all I’m thankful that Wayne (Bennett) was able to give me the opportunity to debut," Chanel said.
“I’m glad that we were able to put in a good performance and help the boys get a win."
Joey Leilua, who scored the match-winning try, praised the brothers on debut after the game.
“I think the two boys did well for their debuts,” Leilua said.
“Sione stepped up and Chanel did as well, I reckon they carried the ball well for us.”
The Knights travel to Cairns this week for Round 21 against the South Sydney Rabbitohs.